From the Interstate across Nevada, the desert landscape astonishes me with its variety. Far from being a boring wasteland, the expanses of waving grasses, shrubs, shallow water, and rock hills provide a spectacular mixture. Even when I know the biology and ecology behind it, my east-coast-calibrated brain still can’t quite grasp that all of this water doesn’t equal trees.
Crossing the American West last winter, I was struck by the profound changes to the landscape affected by large-scale infrastructure programs. Rural electrification resulted in an expectation of electrical availability, and power lines now stretch to the horizon.
In much the same way, lines of Interstate highway curve off to the distance, twinned East and West streams.
Driving through Buffalo in the snow-entombed aftermath of the recent blizzard meant sliding our car between snow drifts and abandoned vehicles, all brutally carved out of the way by earthmoving equipment. Though I’m used to seeing a cut in an earthen hillside, it’s quite different to see cuts as necessary to open a snowy highway. Given the way this storm will stick in folks’ minds, I like the idea of a fuzed, muted scene that already seems placed in memory.